1. INTRODUCTION – BACKGROUND
This call for proposals for the establishment of two year Framework Partnership Agreements (FPA) and for specific grant agreements for 2020 is published under Regulation (EU) No 1293/2013 of 11 December 2013 on the establishment of a Programme for the Environment and Climate Action (LIFE)*. The Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (henceforth "EASME")1, acting under powers delegated by the European Commission, invites non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which are primarily active in the areas of environment and/or climate action and which have an environmental/climate objective, to submit a proposal.2 For the purpose of the present call, the generic acronym “NGO” is used in this document to refer to the target group of this call, namely NGOs as defined in Section 5.2.
The LIFE programme3 is the EU's funding instrument supporting environmental, nature conservation and climate action projects throughout the EU. Since 1992, LIFE has co- financed more than 4000 projects, contributing approximately €3.4 billion euros to the protection of the environment and climate objectives of the EU.
The LIFE operating grants for NGOs aim to strengthen the participation of civil society in the EU policy dialogue, as well as to support implementation and enforcement of Union environmental and climate objectives by the beneficiaries. The operating grants that co-finance the functioning costs of EU-level environmental and climate NGOs are awarded through a competitive and transparent procedure following the present call.
1. Unlike previous LIFE operating grants calls, this call for proposals foresees both applications with two separate submission deadlines:
I. for framework partnership agreements (FPAs, financial years 2020 and 2021) and
II. for specific grant agreements (SGAs, financial year 2020).
NB: Only applicants that will be selected for FPAs will be invited at a later stage to submit the SGA proposal for the first year (2020). The invitation for the second year SGA (2021) will be launched in 2020, assuming the timely adoption of the post-2020 LIFE Regulation containing provisions to continue the financing of operating grants.
2. The award criteria (Section 5.5) have been restructured and simplified.
2. OBJECTIVES – THEMES – PRIORITIES
The objective of this Call is to promote better environmental and climate governance by broadening stakeholder involvement, including NGOs, in policy consultation and implementation. This is foreseen as a specific objective of the sub-programme for Environment for the priority area Environmental Governance and Information and for the priority area Climate Governance and Information of the Climate Action sub-programme, in Articles 12(d) and 16(d) of the LIFE Regulation, respectively.4 All references to environment encompass climate policy.
This call for proposals aims at identifying framework partners to which the EASME may, at a later stage, award specific operating grants (see Sections 5 and 6). Those specific operating grants shall foresee co-financing of the operating costs of NGOs related to the eligible activities provided for in the framework partners' 2020 and 2021 Work Programmes (subject to the conclusion of appropriate provisions in the post-2020 LIFE Regulation). This call covers both the FPAs and the first SGA so that applicants are already aware of the full requirements.
The strategic plan shall have one or more of the following priorities as spelt out in the 7th European Environment Action Plan:
• to protect, conserve and enhance the Union’s natural capital;
• to turn the Union into a resource-efficient, green and competitive low-carbon
• to safeguard the Union’s citizens from environmental and climate-related pressures
and risks to health and wellbeing;
• to maximise the benefits of the Union’s environment legislation by improving implementation;
• to increase knowledge about the environment and widen the evidence base for
• to secure investment for environment and climate policy and account for the environmental costs of any societal activities;
• to better integrate environmental concerns into other policy areas and ensure
coherence when creating new policy;
• to make the Union’s cities more sustainable;
• to help the Union address international environmental and climate challenges more
These thematic objectives are developed in detail in the Environment Action Programme (EAP) for the EU entitled "Living well, within the limits of our planet", the circular economy action plan5, the Action plan on nature, people and the economy, the European Commission Roadmap for a Resource Efficient Europe6, the EU strategy for a climate neutral Europe by 2050 and the EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change.7
The LIFE contribution aims at facilitating the implementation of a work programme of the applicant NGO, which could not otherwise be implemented without the support of the European Union. The financial contribution is based on the co-financing principle. It is only a supplementary financial contribution, additional to local, regional, national and/or private contributions obtained for implementing the work programme of the NGO.
Activities outlined in the biannual strategic plan and which take place outside of the EU borders are only eligible for funding if they provide direct added value in one or more of the EU Member States for the implementation, updating or development of EU environmental and/or climate legislation.8
Each applicant shall identify its main area(s) of work among the following thematic priorities:
- Resource efficiency
- Environment and health
- Greenhouse gas emission reduction
- Climate adaptation
3. TIMET ABLE
Submission and evaluation
The timetable of this call foresees the following steps:
1. Applicants submit their FPA application within the deadline as indicated in the table below (date of sending)
2. EASME evaluates the applications, establishes a ranked list and notifies all applicants on the outcome of the FPA evaluation
3. EASME invites only those applicants that are on top of the ranked list, and for which the available budget is sufficient, to submit their SGA application
4. The invited applicants will submit their SGA application with a deadline of about one month from the invitation
5. EASME will evaluate the SGA proposals and notify the applicants on the outcome of the SGA evaluation. A revision phase9 might follow for the passing applications and before signing the annual specific grant agreement
Date and time or indicative period
a) Publication of the present call for proposals
b) Deadline for submitting FP A proposals (two year strategy 2020-2021)
3 June 2019 before 24:00h
Before 16:00 pm (Brussels time) for hand delivered applications to the Central Mail Service – see Section 11.
c) Evaluation period for FPA proposal
d) Notification of results on FPA proposals to all applicants
Restricted invitation to selected applicants to submit their SGA proposal (2020 work programme and budget)
e) Signature of the FP As (framework partnership agreements)
f) Deadline for submitting SGA proposals
Around 1 month from the invitation to submit
g) Evaluation of the SGA proposals
November - December 2019*
h) Notification of results for SGA proposals
i) Revisions of the SGA proposals
December 2019 - February 2020*
j) Signature of the Specific operating Grant Agreements for financial year 2020
February - April 2020*
* Indicative timing
3.2. Starting date and duration of the framework partnerships and the operating grants
The actual entry into force of the grant will be the first day following the date when the last of the two parties signs the grant agreement.
4. BUDGET AVAILABLE
The indicative total budget earmarked for the co-financing of NGO operating grants is estimated at EUR 24,000,000 (twenty-four million euros) for a two year period, i.e. EUR 12,000,000 (twelve million euros) yearly, subject to budget availability for 2021. The funds available for the financial year 2021 will be defined in the corresponding LIFE Multi Annual Work Programme. The indicative amount available for the annual operating grant for 2020 can be found under section 6.1.
The maximum EU contribution will be EUR 700,000 (seven hundred thousand euros) per grant per year (see section 8.1).
The EASME reserves the right not to distribute all the funds available.
5. TWO-YEAR FRAMEWORK PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT (FPA)
The conclusion of framework partnership agreements will help to forge strong and enriching relations with a number of key NGOs whilst allowing a more stable and structured environment of mutual benefit for the EASME and selected organisations.
The framework partnership agreement will set out the conditions governing grants to partners on the basis of a biennial strategic plan. The strategic plan will present the vision, the mission and the value of the organisation as well as the strategic objectives the organisation is committed to implement with European Union’s support.
Framework partnership agreements define the respective roles and responsibilities of the EASME and of the beneficiaries in implementing the partnership. They present the common objectives agreed by the NGOs and the EASME; the type of activities envisaged; the procedure for awarding a specific agreement for an annual operating grant; the general rights and the obligations of each party under the specific agreements.
The first-level agreement does not constitute an obligation for the EASME to award a specific agreement for an annual operating grant.
5.1. Admissibility Requirements
In order to be admissible, applications must be:
• sent to EASME no later than the deadline for submitting applications referred to in section 3;
• submitted in writing (see section 11) using the template application form available at https://ec.europa.eu/easme/en/section/life/calls-proposals;
• drafted in one of the EU official languages, but preferably in English10; and • duly signed where indicated.
Applicants must use the standard forms, and the current content of the forms cannot be modified. This does not refer to size and layout of the forms. Please maintain a font size of at least 11 in the descriptive parts of the application. Applications must be electronically written, i.e. cannot be completed hand-written. This does not refer to signatures or other type of information that cannot be typed/printed. Applications must contain all requested forms and annexes (if applicable).
Two copies of the proposal must be submitted: one original printed version and one copy, and an electronic version contained on a CDrom or USB stick must also be submitted following the instructions in section 11.
Failure to comply with the above requirements will lead to the rejection of the application except in case of obvious clerical errors or minor omissions. In such cases, the EASME will send an e-mail to the applicant with a short deadline, indicating the information that is missing or the clarification that is needed. It is the responsibility of the applicant to reply swiftly, in any case within seven calendar days.
The e-mail address of the contact person indicated in form A2 will be used for this and all subsequent contacts. Therefore applicants should ensure that it is an e-mail account which is valid, active and checked on a regular basis.
5.2. Eligibility Criteria11
Proposals must be submitted by a single legal entity that fulfils the below requirements.
To be eligible, any applicant must:
1. Be a non-profit making legal person;
2. Be independent, in particular from government, other public authorities, and from political or commercial interests;
3. Be primarily active in the areas of environment and/or climate action and have an environmental/climate objective which is aimed at:
a. the public good,
b. sustainable development, and
c. the development, implementation and enforcement of European Union environmental and/or climate policy and legislation;
In case of doubt, EASME will refer to the statutes (or equivalent) of the NGO to determine its objective.
4. Be established (legally registered) in one of the European Union Member States.12 5. Be operating at Union level with a structure and activities covering at least three
European Union Member States.
Applicants will have to demonstrate a structure and activities covering at least three European Union Member States. To this end, partnerships, networks and memberships are taken into account if they are formally established as legal entities. Partnerships, networks and memberships must be represented by a management board or any other administrative forum that is mandated by its members to represent them at EU level and is responsible for the activities of the network. So-called "loose co-operations" or temporary partnerships are not eligible under this call.
Memberships comprise exclusively legal entities, i.e. not natural persons. All members must be listed in the application. Nevertheless, members are not eligible for funding. Only the applicant NGO, if selected, will become the single beneficiary of the grant and can claim costs. Entities affiliated13 to the applicant are not eligible to receive funding under this Call for proposals. See also Section 8.9 (c).
Statutes and/or activity reports of memberships, partnerships or networks will serve as evidence for the structure and activities covering at least three countries.
Please be aware that eligibility criteria must be complied with for the entire duration of the Framework Partnership Agreement. If the United Kingdom withdraws from the EU during the period of the Framework Partnership Agreement without concluding an agreement with the EU ensuring in particular that British applicants continue to be eligible, British beneficiaries will cease to receive EU funding under any specific grant agreement. EASME may terminate on the basis of Article II.17.2.2 of General Conditions to the Framework Partnership Agreement.
In order to assess the applicants' eligibility, the following supporting documents are requested:
- Legal Entity Form accompanied by the indicated supporting documents:
- Download the Legal entity form here:
- Add a copy of the following supporting documents:
- Registration document: Register(s) of Companies, Official Gazette, Etc. - VAT registration document, if VAT is applicable
- Statutes of the NGO (or equivalent)
- Annual Activity Report of the previous year
- Accounts of the previous year (see financial section below)
- CVs of the main staff involved in the work programme (see technical selection) If the applicant is a newly created entity that has less than one year of existence, it is acceptable that the activity report covers less than 12 months.
In accordance with Article 187 of the financial Regulation, entities that satisfy the eligibility criteria and that do not fall within one of the situations referred to in Articles 136(1) and 141(1) FR and that have a link with the applicant, in particular a legal or capital link, which is neither limited to the action nor established for the sole purpose of its implementation, will be considered as entities affiliated to the applicant.
Only proposals which comply with all eligibility criteria will be further evaluated. 5.2.1. Activities funded
The following types of activities are funded under this call for proposals: - advocacy activities, both at EU and national/local levels;
- participation in EU public consultations;
- cooperation and coalition building with other organisations;
- position papers, conferences, seminars;
- training activities;
- awareness raising and dissemination actions;
- actions aiming at the creation and improvement of networks, exchanges of good practices;
- studies, analyses, mapping activities. 5.2.2. Implementation period
Activities may not start before 01/01/2020. The duration of the framework partnership agreement is 24 months and that of each specific grant agreement is 12 months.
Applications for grants scheduled to run longer will not be accepted.
5.3. Exclusion Criteria
The authorising officer shall exclude an applicant from participating in call for proposals
(a) the applicant is bankrupt, subject to insolvency or winding-up procedures, its assets are being administered by a liquidator or by a court, it is in an arrangement with creditors, its business activities are suspended, or it is in any analogous situation arising from a similar procedure provided for under EU or national laws or regulations;
(b) it has been established by a final judgment or a final administrative decision that the applicant is in breach of its obligations relating to the payment of taxes or social security contributions in accordance with the applicable law;
(c) it has been established by a final judgment or a final administrative decision that the applicant is guilty of grave professional misconduct by having violated applicable laws or regulations or ethical standards of the profession to which the applicant belongs, or by having engaged in any wrongful intent or gross negligence, including, in particular, any of the following:
(i) fraudulently or negligently misrepresenting information required for the verification of the absence of grounds for exclusion or the fulfilment of eligibility or selection criteria or in the performance of a contract, a grant agreement or a grant decision;
(ii) entering into agreement with other applicants with the aim of distorting competition;
(iii) violating intellectual property rights;
(iv) attempting to influence the decision-making process of the Agency during the award procedure;
(v) attempting to obtain confidential information that may confer upon it undue advantages in the award procedure;
(d) it has been established by a final judgment that the applicant is guilty of any of the following:
(i) fraud, within the meaning of Article 3 of Directive (EU) 2017/1371 of the European Parliament and of the Council and Article 1 of the Convention on the protection of the European Communities' financial interests, drawn up by the Council Act of 26 July 1995;
(ii) corruption, as defined in Article 4(2) of Directive (EU) 2017/1371 or Article 3 of the Convention on the fight against corruption involving officials of the European Communities or officials of Member States of the European Union, drawn up by the Council Act of 26 May 1997, or conduct referred to in Article 2(1) of Council Framework Decision 2003/568/JHA, or corruption as defined in the applicable law;
(iii) conduct related to a criminal organisation, as referred to in Article 2 of Council Framework Decision 2008/841/JHA;
(iv) money laundering or terrorist financing within the meaning of Article 1(3), (4) and (5) of Directive (EU) 2015/849 of the European Parliament and of the Council;
(v) terrorist offences or offences linked to terrorist activities, as defined in Articles 1 and 3 of Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA, respectively, or inciting, aiding, abetting or attempting to commit such offences, as referred to in Article 4 of that Decision;
(vi) child labour or other offences concerning trafficking in human beings as referred to in Article 2 of Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council;
(e) the applicant has shown significant deficiencies in complying with main obligations in the performance of a contract, a grant agreement or a grant decision financed by the Union's budget, which has led to its early termination or to the application of liquidated damages or other contractual penalties, or which has been discovered following checks, audits or investigations by an authorising officer, OLAF or the Court of Auditors;
(f) it has been established by a final judgment or final administrative decision that the applicant has committed an irregularity within the meaning of Article 1(2) of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2988/95;
(g) It has been established by a final judgement or final administrative decision that the applicant has created an entity in a different jurisdiction with the intent to circumvent fiscal, social or any other legal obligations of mandatory application in the jurisdiction of its registered office, central administration or principal place of business;
(h) it has been established by a final judgement or final administrative decision that an entity has been created with the intent referred to in point (g);
for the situations referred to in points (c) to (h) above, the applicant is subject to:
facts established in the context of audits or investigations carried out by European Public Prosecutor's Office after its establishment, the Court of Auditors, the European Anti-Fraud Office or the internal auditor, or any other check, audit or control performed under the responsibility of an authorising officer of an EU institution, of a European office or of an EU agency or body;
non-final judgments or non-final administrative decisions which may include disciplinary measures taken by the competent supervisory body responsible for the verification of the application of standards of professional ethics;
facts referred to in decisions of persons or entities being entrusted with EU budget implementation tasks;
information transmitted by Member States implementing Union funds;
decisions of the Commission relating to the infringement of Union competition law or of a national competent authority relating to the infringement of Union or national competition law; or
decisions of exclusion by an authorising officer of an EU institution, of a European office or of an EU agency or body.
5.3.2. Remedial measures14
If an applicant declares one of the situations of exclusion listed in Form A1, it must indicate the measures it has taken to remedy the exclusion situation, thus demonstrating its reliability. This may include e.g. technical, organisational and personnel measures to correct the conduct and prevent further occurrence, compensation of damage or payment of fines or of any taxes or social security contributions. The relevant documentary evidence which illustrates the remedial measures taken must be provided in annex to the declaration. This does not apply for situations referred in point (a) of section 5.4.1.
5.3.3. Rejection from the call for proposals
The authorising officer shall not award a grant to an applicant who:
Administrative sanctions (exclusion)15 may be imposed on applicants, if any of the declarations or information provided as a condition for participating in this procedure prove to be false.
5.3.4. Supporting documents
Applicants must sign the Declaration on honour certifying that they are not in one of the detailed situations referred to in articles 136(1) and 141 of the Financial Regulation, using the relevant form (Form A1) available at
https://ec.europa.eu/easme/en/section/life/calls-proposals. 5.4. Selection criteria16
The selection criteria will enable EASME to assess the applicant organisation’s financial and operational capacity to complete the proposed work programme. Only organisations with the necessary financial and operational capacity may be considered for a FPA.
5.4.1. Financial capacity17
Applicants must have stable and sufficient sources of funding to maintain their activity
throughout the duration of the grant and to participate in its funding.
The applicants' financial capacity will be assessed on the basis of the supporting documents to be submitted with the application. The thresholds mentioned below refer to the amounts of the EU requested funding per year.
Low value grants ≤ EUR 60 000:
Operating grants > EUR 60 000:
a declaration on their honour covering the two years period (form A1), and
the profit and loss account as well as the balance sheet for the last 2 financial years for which the accounts were closed;
for newly established entities: the business plan might replace the above documents;
the table provided for in the application form, filled in with the relevant statutory accounting figures, in order to calculate the ratios as detailed in the form.
1. the profit and loss account and the balance sheet for the 2 last financial years available for which the accounts were closed or if applicable:
- For newly created entities, the NGOs business plan covering the 2 year period or equivalent might replace the above documents;
- In case of exceptional circumstances, notably regarding a new network created by pre-existing organisations, EASME may grant derogation of the requirement of supporting documents referring to the two previous years and request the applicants to demonstrate their financial capacity in any other way, by submitting for example:
o The NGO's provisional budget
o Supporting documents such as an appropriate statement from a bank, a tax declaration, a certificate from national authorities stating that social charges were paid on time, etc.
o If the NGO cannot submit any of those, or the outcome of the analysis is not satisfactory, EASME could request the organisation to submit a financial guarantee provided by a bank or an approved financial institution. Alternatively, one or several of the founding member organisations could act as a guarantor, after acceptance by the Agency and verification of its financial viability (a financial guarantee would have to be submitted by this third party).
2. the table provided in the application form (Financial Capacity form – F), filled in with the relevant statutory accounting figures (or figures from the business plan).
Financial capacity form – F must be completed by all applicants that request a contribution higher than 60.000 EUR.
Form F collects financial data based on the applicant's balance sheet and profit- and-loss account for the last two financial years in a standardised form (or when applicable from the business plan). A table of equivalence between the different classifications of accounts compared and the Fourth Directive on accounting harmonisation is set out in section F of the application guide. This form must be completed carefully. Given its complexity, it should be completed by a professional accountant or an auditor. The data reported will be used to evaluate the financial capacity of the applicant.
It is therefore very important that the data reported are accurate. The EASME may wish to cross-check the data with those reported in the official certified accounts or the business plan (to be submitted as obligatory documents – see point above). The amounts must be entered in Euro. For financial statements established in other currencies, please refer to the EU InforEuro exchange rates (for the closing date of the statement) available on: http://ec.europa.eu/budget/inforeuro/index.cfm?Language=en.
c) Operating grants > EUR 100 00018:
(i) the information and supporting documents mentioned in point b) above, and
(ii) an audit report produced by an approved external auditor certifying the accounts for the last two financial years available, where such an audit report is available or whenever a statutory report is required by law.